Jared Middleton, Toy Photographer

Q: What made you want to become a photographer?

A: I’m a toy collector turned photographer. After growing a large collection of poseable action figures, photographing them seemed like the best way to start putting them to use. Over time it turned into something I perused as an art form! Capturing action figures and practical effects was a way to make these mini characters that I love come to life!

Q: How and why are you using Lume Cubes in your work?

A: Lume Cubes make lighting available when natural lighting is impossible. With trying to capture a static subject and a very dynamic foreground/background, it requires camera settings that leave me without a lot of light. Lume Cubes bring that light to my photo to make an explosion POP and outshine any giant explosion behind it.

Toy Photography

Q: Who are you inspired by?

A: I’m inspired by the many toy photographers in our small and niche yet growing toy photography community present on Instagram. There are dozens and maybe even hundreds of talented people on the platform and we are all constantly leaning on each other and learning from each other. The friendly environment makes us all grow as individual photographers and as a community.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer? What would you be instead?

A: I honestly don’t know what I would be if I wasn’t a photographer. Finding this passion was a big milestone in my life. Before Toy Photography was a staple in my life, I had no clue what I wanted to do “when I grow up”. Photography has given me a dream to pursue and I don’t know what I’d be do without it!

Q: When you get a new toy, how do you decide on the setting and effects? Do you have a vision process before starting the photo?

A: I try my absolute best to keep the figure I’m shooting accurate to source material it’s originated from. If I’m shooting a First Order Flame Trooper from Star Wars, I’m most certainly going to use fire! If I’m shooting A Gyarados figure from Pokémon, I’m definitely using water. Shooting basic Storm Troopers is always my favorite because they could fit in just about any environment thanks to the massive universe that is Star Wars.

Toy Photography with visual effects

Q: If you could only shoot with ONE lens-type for the rest of your life, which would it be? Fisheye, wide-angle, prime, zoom, macro, or a telephoto lens?

A: I don’t have a lot of experience with many different lenses but my “nifty fifty” 50mm Canon lens works better for me than I could ever ask it to.

Q: What is your go-to camera?

A: My basic Canon Rebel t6 DSLR. It keeps things simple for me as I continue to grow as a photographer.

Q: Any advice for new photographers?

A: My advice for someone new and looking to be original with every shot is to learn from yourself and don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Every time you take a photo, try something new and don’t be afraid to push yourself and attempt something you never thought you could achieve. Every time you try, fail or succeed, you learn a massive amount that you can use in further photo shoots and constantly improve! Continuously improve for YOU, not for the likes or followers. As long as you are doing your best and improving yourself, the likes and followers will come on time.

Q: What is the best part of your day?

A: On a weekday, the best part of my day is coming home to relax after a long work day! But on Saturdays and Sunday’s, nothing is better than waking up in the morning, cracking an energy drink and setting up my first scene to shoot!

Q: Why Toy photography?

A: I’m a massive fan boy of many different spectrums from Star Wars to Pokemon to DC Comics. These characters mean more to a fan than most people realize. Being able to bring them to life, recreate a scene or create a totally new scene through toy photography is truely special!

Q: What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken and why?

A: My favorite photo I’ve taken was with my favorite Storm Trooper, the Patrol Trooper. This was taken in a puddle outside my apartment in Spring of 2019 when the snow was just starting to melt. It was my first time experimenting with multiple practical effects at the same time. I was able to accomplish a crisp explosion and a massive water splash in the same photo. With a great pose and the use of my Lume Cube Air, I was able to still make the Trooper pop despite the vibrant effects in the photo.

Star Wars Stormtrooper Toy Photography

Q: What is your favorite thing about toy Photography?

A: Toy photography allows me to embrace my nerd fandom and express myself through a unique art form that always surprises people when they are exposed to it. 

Q: What is your least favorite thing about toy Photography?

A: My least favorite thing about my style of toy photography is trying to find the balance between nature and the figure I’m shooting. I often will have a scene totally set up perfectly and ready to shoot, then a gust of wind can take it all down forcing me to start all over. It can be the most frustrating part of my day!

Q: You use a ton of special effects in your photos, what is the next new one you are going to experiment with?

A: I’m a massive fan of practical effects and finding new ways to incorporate reality and action into my photos. My ultimate goal is to combine as many practical effects in a photo at once and to do it well. A shot with fire, water, earth all in one is my grail shot!